10 Tips for Safer Chatting

In the 21st century online cyber safety has become just as important as personal safety in the real world. Don't believe me? How about this statistic: 20% of children age 10-17 have been solicited sexually online (that's 1 out of every 5 kids) and 89% of sexual solicitations are made in either chat rooms or via Instant Messages.

Surely you know what chat rooms are by now, but if you're a parent and you've never visited one of these virtual places on the Internet, it's time to check one out. Chat rooms are a popular form of communication for kids and unfortunately online predators know this. Since chatting poses a particular threat for kids and teenagers, it's time to have a talk with your children and follow these 10 chat guidelines.

10 Safety Tips for Chat Rooms:

1. Never give out your personal information in a chat room.

2. Never agree to meet a stranger in person whom you met in a chat room.

3. When you're asked to enter or sign up for a chat username, choose a name that doesn't reveal your personal information. For example, you might use SingerSue instead of SyracuseSue.

4. Be wary of other chatters who ask you to meet in private chat rooms.

5. Check the terms and conditions, code of conduct, and privacy statement at the chat site before you begin chatting.

6. Monitor your child's use of chat. Remember, kids can participate in chats using Web sites, chat software programs, cell phones, and even certain online games.

7. Tell your child that if something in a chat room makes them feel uncomfortable, they should immediately leave the chat room and tell an adult.

8. Insist that your child never send photographs of themselves to anyone they meet in a chat room.

9. Tell kids to stick to moderated chats.

10. Learn the chat lingo. Kids often communicate using shorthand while 95% of parents don't recognize the lingo kids use to let people know that their parents are watching.

NetLingo is here to help. Read more online safety statistics; keep up-to-date with the chat lingo; sign up for our Acronym of the Day email; and then check out some of these teen chat sites; what you see may surprise you.